On November 08, 2014, the California State LULAC Board held its winter meeting in Santa Fe Springs, California, and received a presentation by the Mexican American Legal and Defense Fund (MALDEF) on single district elections and the impact on Latinos throughout California.
Subsequently, the State Board voted unanimously to continue strategic conversations with MALDEF in order to reach a Memorandum of Understanding between California State LULAC and MALDEF that would identify and prioritize cities and other local jurisdictions that are currently single district elections jurisdictions, that as such, are a detriment to minority and Latino communities, throughout California, in the area of fair and equitable representation by local elected officials.
King City Police Scandal
On Tuesday, February 25, 2014, the local and national news reported the uncovering of a police scandal that apparently targeted Latinos – especially the most vulnerable in the community, the poor, indigenous and undocumented farmworker.
About one-third of the King City Police Department were arrested, including the Police Chief and recently retired Police Chief. Sadly, for a few hours, the King City Police Department had a sign up reading “Closed”.
LULAC Support of King City
The following week, on Thursday, March 6, a press conference was held in front of City Hall in King City. Local, state and national LULAC representatives, with organizational support by national and state organizations such as MALDEF, NALEO, Southwest Voter Registration Education Project and the American G.I. Forum, and others, to support the local residents of King City and to provide advocacy support to create positive change in the community.
Among the various speakers at the press conference was Assembly Member Luis Alejo, representing 30th California Assembly District. Assembly Member Alejo called for:
Expediting a planned town hall meeting for King City residents about the arrests and their concerns over police.
Creating a local police oversight committee.
Possible state legislation to address 30-day impound practices and police-tow company conflicts of interest.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris to support Monterey County’s investigation.
Additionally, Assembly Member Alejo called for district elections to help residents achieve better representation in a city that’s close to 90 percent Latino.
Immediately, LULAC went into action by holding public and private meetings with victims of the scandal, that according to local residents, “had been going on for decades.” Close to 100 residents were interviewed from which a plethora of issues surfaced due to lack of services and not enough political representation – both through advocacy and through elected representation.
To date, the King City council now has 1 Latino Council Member; in 2014, during the height of the police scandal, there were 2 Latino Council Members.
Empowering King City
California State LULAC, California LULAC District 12 (central coast counties of Monterey, San Benito and Santa Cruz) will continue to support the newly formed King City LULAC Council No. 3257 and Council President Ana Vargas.
California State LULAC
With the continued leadership of California Assembly Member Luis Alejo (now, President of the Latino Legislative Caucus in Sacramento) the mission towards district elections by California LULAC is certainly on its way towards reversing the systemic deficiencies found in numerous communities, such as King City, throughout the state.
In light of the fact that the Latino community throughout California is the backbone of our state’s workforce – especially in the vast agricultural lands that generate billions of dollars, as is King City and Monterey County, the urgency to correct ineffective, single district elections, is a top priority to the newly elected State Board of California State LULAC.
“We have set a course to ensure that the Latino communities have representation of their choosing,” stated Dave Rodriguez, State Director of California State LULAC.
California State LULAC will keep you informed of this single district initiative, as well as other State LULAC initiatives unfold in California – for the good of the League and the community we serve.